Leah Panapa: Are Possum hunts suitable for school?

Opinion 21/06/2019

By Leah Panapa, Magic Talk Nights host.

The divide between city and country is still as strong as its ever been and that’s been highlighted this week when animal rights advocates called for the end of a rural schools fundraiser – a possum hunt.

The annual event is planned by Friends of Drury School, a parent-run organisation.

The goal is to kill as many possums as possible.

Held over three nights at the end the corpses are brought in for a final weigh-in with the fur sold as part of the fundraiser.

Bows and arrows have been incorporated in the hunt, so I hope everyone that uses them are Robin Hoods in the making and don’t leave any possums with arrows half hanging out of them bleeding to death in the bush somewhere.

Previous hunts raised the ire of many after it was discovered those possums killed with joeys were disposed of by drowning them in a bucket of water. This year any baby possums face a fast and humane death – we are told.

Those living in rural parts of our country roll their eyes when they hear that city folk are horrified at the news cute furry creatures are being killed but I’ll let you in on a little secret... we ALL know possums are pests. No matter where we live, we know apart from their destruction of our native plants and animals, they also are carriers and transmitters of bovine tuberculous.

The question is however, should a possum hunt be associated with a school?

Should hunts be seen as ‘family fun’? Some other rural schools that have run similar fundraisers have offered prizes for the ‘Best dressed possum” - kids dressing up the corpse or ‘possum tossing’!

We had chickens, sheep and pigs when I was growing up. The majority of which ended up on our table, and we knew that was why we had them. We were taught to feed and look after them, and give them the best life until the time came.

I saw ‘home kills’ and even joked one night with my family which lamb we were eating, ..was it Dolly or Parton? That didn’t go down well with one of my sisters who actually went vegetarian for a while? But what I am saying is we respected our animals.

We didn’t dress up the dead lambs or throw the piglets as far as we could.

Again, I realise possums aren’t in the same category as the animals in our food chain but the bottom line is respect, I must also note that Drury school is not dressing up the possums.

My point is, possums are a pest in this country and the goal is to eradicate them, but I say, leave that to hunters and leave it out of our schools.

Leah Panapa is host of Magic Talk Nights.